How To Find Proper Bow Size – 2021 Guide

| Last Updated May 2, 2021

There are many aspects to consider when buying a new bow for you or your child.

You'll need to look at many of those areas, including your height and arm length, as these affect what equipment you can use. 

The following information will help you determine which bow size you should get for your build.

What Size Bow Do I Need and Does Bow Size Matter?

Bow size is the total length of the bow, from limb to limb. The height of a bow plays a role in determining its draw length and draw weight. Its sizing also affects the weight you'll be holding up each time you practice archery.

Bow size impacts your accuracy and comfort when handling the equipment. Additionally, the weight of the bow, as you pull the string, can affect each shot you take. However, the bow size is mostly for your own comfort.

How To Determine the Correct Bow Size For You

Using the right-sized bow is essential if you want to improve your aim. The following steps are easy ways to determine the size you need. If you're buying one for a child, there are also various options to consider based on age.

Using Draw Length to Find Your Bow Size

Draw distance is the length between the nock of the arrow to the bow rest. It would be best to have a bow that has a similar draw length to your measured one for maximum comfort and usability. You can check the size at home with a tape measure and imitate firing a shot.

Another easy way to find this measurement is to take your arm span and divide it by two and a half. The method is fundamental but will serve as a quick way to check your ideal draw length.

Photo Credit:

Using the Archer's Height to Determine Bow Size 

Using your height is also a great way to identify the approximate size of the bow. As it’s less reliable, you should only use measurement to double-check your arm span results. 

For heights below 5'10", you'll likely have a draw length of 28 to 30 inches and a length of 68 to 70 inches. This increases to over 31 inches of draw length and 70 to 72 inches of height with anyone taller than 6'5". For anyone shorter than 5'10", a bow that's 66 to 68 inches is ideal.

Sizing Considerations for Children

As children are still growing and have a shorter draw length than adults, finding the right bow can be challenging. Depending on your child's age, you'll need a bow that will grow with them for a short while.

For any child between 2'11" and 3'4", a bow that's 48 inches long is ideal. However, older children with a height of 5' will need a bow that's around 64 inches. 

If you're buying a bow for a younger archer, selecting a size that's a few extra inches taller is an easy way to save money. However, the equipment may be hard to handle at first. Alternatively, a smaller bow will cause some issues but will last if purchased correctly.

Common Bow Sizes

Depending on the bow type, the ideal size will change for each person. Compound bows, recurve bows, and longbows all offer different draw lengths to their heights. 

Photo credit:

Compound Bow Sizes

Compound bows are powerful, yet retain a smaller shape. However, unlike other bows, you can set a draw length. This feature makes it easier to find the right height for your build. 

Many compound bows offer 24 to 30-inch draw lengths. This length provides plenty of room to find the correct projection for yourself. Additionally, the draw weight can get reduced.

Longbow Sizes

Longbow heights are easier to manage; they're ideally as tall as their wielder, with a few added inches. This length provides the opportunity for the perfect show from the bow. Without the required height, the draw and firing will feel unpleasant.

However, if the longbow is too tall, you'll encounter several issues. Mainly, you'll struggle to draw the bow back fully and you’ll lose power whenever you fire at a target. Generally, the bows range from 6'2" to 6'11" in height.

Recurve Bow Sizes

It’s not too much of a challenge to find a correctly-sized recurve bow that matches your draw length. A poorly-sized one will feel uncomfortable when shooting. The bow will also lose accuracy if you're using the wrong size.

Typically, the bow comes in sizes that range from 48 to 72 inches, with a draw length from 14 to over 31 inches. 

Photo credit:

Other Factors to Consider When Sizing a Bow

Aside from draw length and height, there are a few other factors to consider. These aspects include the size of your arrows, your draw's strength, and what type of bow you're considering buying.

Draw Weight

Draw weight is the force needed to draw the string back into the anchor position. This factor is critical to consider when finding a bow that you can manage. The weight can increase over time as you develop improved physical fitness. 

Most adult men who are beginners can handle up to 30 pounds, while women easily pull back 26 pounds. Leading into advanced and experienced archers, men and women can both easily handle up to 50 pounds. However, these values depend entirely on your strength and will change as you practice.

Type of Bow

The type of bow you shoot has varying heights and draw lengths. Compound bows are an example of this, as their draw length is adjustable. However, a recurve bow can’t change its draw length or weight.

Arrow Length

Each bow type required arrows of a particular length while matching your draw length. If you're buying a bow that requires different arrows, you'll need to purchase those before using your new equipment. 

Additionally, if you want to continue using the same arrows, you can't change your draw length past the arrow's size.


While the factors mentioned above are great for finding the best-sized bow for yourself, it's always best to consult an experienced archer or salesperson. Using an appropriately-sized bow will be more reliable than using smaller or larger equipment that will affect your accuracy. Additionally, the right size won’t strain your arms.

People Also Ask

The four most-commonly-asked questions involve longbow sizing, the effects of a short bow, bow length, and what size is suitable for your child. The answers are easily answered and should finalize any questions you have remaining about sizes for archery equipment.

What Happens If the Bow Is Too Short? 

There are no significant disadvantages to having a slightly shorter bow as long as the draw length is acceptable. However, if you have a larger build, it'll be less comfortable using a shorter bow with limited draw length. Even so, if your equipment feels right, then a short bow is suitable and shouldn’t impact your accuracy.

How Long Should a Longbow Be?

A typical longbow should match your height with a couple of inches to spare. While this sizing guide is rough, you'll know the bow is short if it feels uncomfortable when you’re drawing back the string. If the longbow is too long, it wastes power as you pull on the strings due to the limbs' height.

Photo credit:

How Tall Should My Bow Be?

There are many recommendations for bow height depending on the bow type you're looking to buy. If you're shopping at a store, speaking to a professional and testing their bows will lead to an informed decision. The best height for a bow is the one that feels comfortable in your grip as you fire it.

However, if you're purchasing a recurve bow, the following is advisable. If you're under 5'6", your bow should be 64 inches. If you're taller than 6'2", a bow of 70 inches should work with under 5'10" and 6'2", having a length of 66 and 68 inches, respectively.

What Size Bow Should I Get for a Child?

Depending on the age of your child, the bow size will differ a bit. Younger generations require lighter and shorter bows, increasing in both aspects as they age. At ten years, you'll need a 15 to 25-pound bow. The sizes for these often range between 40 to 50 inches and should feel comfortable to your child when they hold it.

My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at Read more about Big Game Logic.